New Giant Tortoise Species Discovered In Galapagos Islands

Francis YupangcoBy Francis Yupangco 3 years ago
Home  /  Science  /  New Giant Tortoise Species Discovered In Galapagos Islands

tortoiseThe new discovery of species never ceases to amaze me. This species was actually right in plain sight in the Galapagos Islands, however, since it looks so similar to another species, it was thought to be the same species. The island of Santa Cruz has two populations of large tortoises: The tortoises that live on the island’s east side are known as the Cerro Fatal tortoises, and the ones in the west and southwest are called the Reserva tortoises. Because they look so similar, until recently they were considered to be of the same species, the species Chelonoidis porteri. Yale evolutionary biologist Adalgisa Caccone and her research team made the discovery by analyzing the DNA of the two species. “As different as they are genetically, it’s not obvious to the eye,” says James Gibbs, professor of vertebrate conservation biology at the State University of New York, Syracuse, and one of Caccone’s co-authors. The difficulty became trying to figure out which species would be the ‘new’ species and which would remain Chelonoidis porteri. After performing a genetic analysis, it was determined that the larger Reserva population could stay Chelonoidis porteri, and the smaller Cerro Fatal population would become Chelonoidis donfaustoi, who was named after a beloved caretaker of endangered tortoises, Fausto Llerena Sánchez . MORE

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Francis Yupangco
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 Francis Yupangco

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Francis is a marine biologist with an MBA and over 20 years of professional aquarium experience. Francis is the former Aquatic Development Manager at Hagen USA., makers of Fluval brand aquarium products. He co-stars on Nat Geo WILD's reality TV series Fish Tank Kings where he is the resident "Fish Geek" and was Director of Marketing at Living Color Aquariums. He is an avid explorer having visited over 45 countries and lived in 7. At 17, he was among the youngest aquarists ever hired by the Vancouver Aquarium, where he worked for 7 years. His aquatic biology experience ranges from larval fish rearing to the design, construction and operational management of renowned public aquariums around the world. Francis is currently head of marketing at the world's largest vertically integrated fish farming company.

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